VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks have taken a step to clear some salary-cap room before Monday's NHL trade deadline.
The Canucks placed defenceman Keith Ballard on long-term injured reserve as he deals with a neck injury and concussion symptoms. A team spokesman confirmed the move Saturday, adding coach Alain Vigneault had also verified it.
According to Capgeek.com, a website that tracks teams' spending in relation to the salary cap, the move gives the Canucks US$4.6 million to spend on a trade-deadline acquisition.
The request to put Ballard on long-term injured reserve had to be approved by the league. Ballard, a 29-year-old American, has remained in Vancouver during the team's six-game road trip, which still has two games remaining in Dallas on Sunday and Phoenix on Tuesday.
He has missed nine games and last played Feb. 7 in Nashville. He experienced a sore neck while playing and Vigneault indicated Ballard's concussion symptoms became more bothersome later.
Sitting first overall before Saturday's games with a 40-16-0-6 mark, the Canucks have few immediate needs at the deadline. However, Ballard's injury gives them the option of going after a high-priced player.